Coronavirus update: Pfizer booster reportedly protects kids from Omicron variant

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The FDA has approved two more tests

COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 80,514,666 (80,480,771)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 987,560 (986,460)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 501,970,999 (501,027,009)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,190,360 (6,186,045)‌

Drugmakers say booster shots effective for young children

Pfizer and BioNTech report that a clinical trial has shown that their vaccine booster shot provides effective protection from COVID-19 in children between the ages of five and 11. Specifically, they say the shot provided protection against infection from the Omicron variant.

The trial analyzed data from 140 children five through 11 years of age who received a booster dose approximately six months after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. It showed that antibody levels increased 36 times more than after the second dose of the mRNA vaccine.

“A robust response was observed regardless of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the companies reported.

FDA approves two more at-home tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two additional over-the-counter (OTC) at-home COVID-19 antigen tests. The agency says validation data was gathered through the FDA’s collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Independent Test Assessment Program (ITAP). 

The Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) were issued to Osang LLC for its OHC COVID-19 Antigen Self Test and Xiamen Boson Biotech Co., Ltd for its Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card. The FDA said it is continuing to make it easier for Americans to test for the virus.

The FDA says the products are antigen diagnostic tests that show results in 15 minutes and that they can be used as a serial test for people with or without symptoms. That means the test is done two times over three days, with at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours between tests.

Uninsured face COVID financial crunch

Americans who have no health insurance will face costs when they need a COVID-19 test or treatment for the virus. The federal government bore those costs up until now, but funding has run out and has not been renewed.

Unless and until funding is restored, uninsured Americans may be charged $100 or more for a test and will be presented with hospital bills if they require treatment. 

CNBC reports that Senate negotiators reached a $10 billion bipartisan COVID-19 funding deal last week. However, the package does not include a White House request for $1.5 billion to cover the uninsured and pay some vaccine costs.

Around the nation

  • Ohio: Ohio is one of the latest states to report a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases. State health officials say new cases have increased by more than 23%. Despite that, Ohio ranks 31st among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, according to USA TODAY.

  • California: Hundreds of thousands of Californians are reportedly waiting for promised emergency COVID-19 rental assistance, with fewer than half of applicants having received the money. "We’ve had to choose between paying bills and feeding our family,"  Melissa Menez told KTVU-TV. "I don’t know what’s taking so long."

  • Michigan: Even though COVID-19 cases are increasing in the state, the Detroit Free Press reports that thousands of doses of an effective antiviral medicine are sitting unused because doctors aren’t prescribing them. "What we really saw was the clinicians were a little bit hesitant to prescribe it,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state's chief medical executive.

  • Texas: New cases of the coronavirus are rising in Texas, but hospitalizations aren’t. In fact, health officials are reporting the fewest hospitalizations since the pandemic began. As of Tuesday, 823 Texans were hospitalized with the virus, a decrease of 34 from the day before.

  • Iowa: The virus spread quickly through meatpacking plants in the early days of the pandemic, and now the family of an employee who died of COVID-19 is suing his former employer. Jose Andrade-Garcia died after contracting COVID-19 while working at the JBS USA meatpacking plant in Marshalltown.

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